The childhood of a Muslim girl in London: no technology, just fun

Let me take you back to my childhood…

If there was ever a time machine, I would love to step in it and venture into the past: The 90’s! The age of the light up trainers, stick on earrings and the tamagochi. But I am sure I speak for most of us when I say that childhood years were the best of our lives, it’s sad that at the time some of us didn’t appreciate it and were too much in a hurry to grow up and wear mum’s heels.

That is the only time in our life where we did not worry about our exams, our careers, paying the bills and taxes and worrying about where our life was going to lead next. The biggest problem for me as a child was being caught sticking chewing gum under the school table and worrying about when the class bully was going return to beat me up with a ruler.

Aside from the ruler wielding class fellow, life as a child in the East End of London was quite chirpy and wholesome. I grew up in a devout Muslim household with my parents guiding me as much as they could. Being a kid, I didn’t really bother with my Faith back then. I was too busy being the pink ranger, playing with my dinosaur cut outs (don’t ask) and wondering about how many snails I was going to collect with my next door neighbor.

My family thought I was quite the oddball- to some extent I think they still do, but I think I was just full of imagination and creativity, finding others with the same zest as I did. We rode our bikes, played hide and seek, climbed walls– we invented Pakur before it was even a thing. I can speak for many 90’s kids, we never had iPhones, iPads and the numerous social networks, so we had to make our own pass time and it was fun. One day I was Superman trying to fly by jumping off the bed, the next day I was a ninja turtle wearing a backpack as a makeshift turtle shell, the following day I was a gladiator in a battle with my cousin trying to shove each other off a chair with pillows. We were silly and it was great!

The kids today, however, are very different. Times have changed now, some may argue that it’s the best thing ever but I believe that children of today have lost out considerably. Everything is centred around their tablets and mobile phones. They barely look up unless the place was on fire and even then, they still wouldn’t budge from the screen. Obesity is on the rise, kids are socially withdrawn then ever before and children and teenagers are losing their uniqueness because they want to be like this or that person. We’re not that far off those fat wheelchair wielding people from Wall-E. It’s a sad time, but we don’t want to see it.

I hate to sound older than my age but I grew up in an era just before technology exploded and created this whole new medium including social media so there was no pressure. It was the absolute perfect time to be a kid and sometimes I wish we weren’t as advanced as we were.

Our childhood experiences moulds us to be who we are as grown ups. I don’t think I would have been the person I am today if it wasn’t for my childhood. My thanks goes to Allah, the Supreme, for keeping me healthy and fit as a kid and my family for putting up with my craziness for all these years. I want to encourage the children of today to switch off their iPads and laptops for a while and do something new.

Something they haven’t done before.

Perhaps one day, they too will tell tales of their colourful childhood.

Written by Humaira Hussain

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Humaira Hussain lives in London and works in a mental health organisation as a project coordinator. She's also a part-time freelance graphic designer. Her interests include writing, taking photographs, illustrating and gaining as much knowledge as she can about Islam and the world we live in.